Inventive, oppressive and relentlessly challenging, 7th Sector is quite unlike any other game I have played. The brainchild of lone developer Sergey Noskov, 7th Sector utilizes abstract platforming and cerebral puzzles to tell a compelling slow-burn dystopian tale set in a bleak, bizarre cyberpunk vision of the future.
Confined within the uneasy static of a CRT TV, you, an unknown energy force, break free from your digital cage and into the network of cables which snake their way through the broader prison-like apartment block that contains you. Now a nebulous spark, you travel down hallways, jumping between wires, dodging negative currents as you discharge yourself to trigger mechanisms, blow lightbulbs and short-circuit transformers.
While simple in concept, this mode of movement through the game world and its unique form of ‘platforming’ took me aback. With no identity, apparent purpose or even corporeal form, my presence in this world was about as abstruse as it could get. And so I surged on, intrigued by what further effect I could have on this world and equally eager to unveil the reason for my being here.
Soon I began to find answers as the first signs of this dismal future’s ruthless nature revealed themselves to me. Within 7th Sector’s first few chapters, I’d solved pattern combinations and physics puzzles, manipulated environments both digital and physical, escaped brutal timed challenges and even employed pen and paper to figure out mathematical problems. This extraordinary diversity keeps each new puzzle fresh, and while the uncompromising difficulty of some more than once had me searching online for hints, solutions always feel attainable. The steady introduction of new puzzle types, which utilize everything from light beams to firearms, alongside some inventive iterations on familiar formulas, work to create a consistently varied and rewarding level of challenge.
This innovative variety worms its way through all facets of 7th Sector, contorting so many ideas mechanically, visually and narratively into its concise 3-4 hours that no two acts feel the same. This constant evolution thankfully proves cohesive, rarely feeling half-baked or disparate, instead lending an exhilarating pace as you are propelled through its 47 brief chapters. While the odd onerous puzzle or overly punishing stealth section can hinder this momentum, little ultimately detracts from the game’s tempo or the thrill of Noskov’s refreshing, intelligent game design. Likewise, the game’s platforming can be equally merciless in its precision yet each swift death feels earned.
Each of the game’s six acts, defined by your embodiment of a different physical form, uses your new material makeup to explore contrasting means of interacting with and experiencing this industrial dystopia. As a defenceless drone, you’ll see the city from above, agilely avoiding hostiles as you soar over the ruined splendour of its dense skyline and arid outer wilds. Inhabiting a hulking, quadrupedal combat-bot you’ll gain agency as a formidable force, gunning down those that stand in your way and muscling through walls of solid concrete in the city’s desolate underbelly.
Similarly, 7th Sector uses these differing perspectives to flesh out its world-building and environmental storytelling. In your early iterations, you’ll observe the micro, gliding unnoticed past arguing couples and sleeping children in propaganda-strewn hovels, over rooftops drenched in rain and neon and through the circuits of the state’s sinister surveillance. Conversely, the game’s later areas exhibit the extent of the city’s oppression and unrest, the gnashing machinations of infernal factories and vast scrap yards siphoning you ever-deeper into this nightmarish cyberpunk hellscape.
Each one of these environments, from ramshackle apartments to brutalist bunkers, is rendered in rich detail, every surface weathered and rusted to make the world feel truly lived in. Stunning lighting effects and excellent audio design, including an ominous dark synth score by Nobody’s Nail Machine, converge to create a relentless, foreboding atmosphere. Combined, these elements serve a gripping, nuanced narrative that despite its linearity feels shaped by you as — evidenced in it four possible endings — while still finding effectiveness in its minimalism.
7th Sector is a darkly compelling and relentlessly challenging experience, one that threatens to usurp genre classics like Limbo and INSIDE with both its innovative gameplay and rich sense of place. Let down only by some frustratingly imbalanced stealth mechanics in its final few acts, Sergey Noskov’s exceptional 7th Sector implements cerebral puzzling and precise platforming to drive a richly atmospheric and intriguingly obscure dystopian tale of the tumultuous relationship between man and machine.
7th Sector PS4 Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
The work of one man; 7th Sector is an exceptional achievement. This wholly unique puzzle-platformer ceaselessly innovates with rich world-building and challenging tests of both intellect and reflexes, all framed within a bleak, engrossing and deeply atmospheric cyberpunk fiction.
- Inventive, varied puzzles and platforming that never cease to both challenge and reward.
- An arresting visual style that makes effective use of lighting.
- A compelling narrative, rich with environmental storytelling.
- Some overly cryptic puzzles can slow the pacing.
- Late-game stealth sections are frustrating to a fault.
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.